NEW CANAAN — All the pregame hype about the so-called Marinelli Bowl II turned to the field Friday night, and in the end it was an outstanding defense and two brothers who scripted the outcome.
Ryan O’Connell and Quintin O’Connell each had one touchdown running and receiving as the New Canaan football team broke open a close game with four straight second-half scores for a 40-16 win over Greenwich.
“We made some decent adjustments at halftime,” said New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli. “Once we started to spread things around I think that really helped us.”
Marinelli looked about as miserable as any coach whose team had just decisively defeated a storied program could since it came against his son, Greenwich coach John Marinelli.
“I hate it. I hate it,” Lou Marinelli said afterward. “I hate having to walk across the field. It’s tough.”
For the rest of the Dunning Field crowd, the father-son storyline had long been forgotten, the narrative replaced by a battle between two schools with proud histories and, it appears, bright presents and futures.
The Rams (6-0), who have won three straight state championships, remained undefeated. They came out for the second half with just a 13-8 lead and looking to use a short passing game to open space. It worked, led by the freshman quarterback Drew Pyne, who improved as the game went on, much as he has since earning the starting job.
Pyne completed 11 of 20 passes for 184 yards and four scores. He rushed for 69 yards and used his scrambling ability to keep plays alive until receivers became open.
Pyne threw scoring passes to Jack Hoelzer and Ryan O’Connell in the first half, but the Cardinals’ Connor Langan hooked up with Jeremiah Harris on a 29-yard score in the closing seconds of the second quarter to intensify the drama.
That didn’t last long, however, as touchdown passes by Pyne to Quintin O’Connell and Jackson Appelt were sandwiched around Ryan O’Connell’s 10-yard scoring run that made the score 33-8 in the third quarter.
Quintin O’Connell and the Cardinals’ Kevin Iobbi traded late touchdowns.
Greenwich, at 4-2, still is very much in the Class LL playoff hunt.
“They came out in the second half, we didn’t,” John Marinelli said. “They rally to the ball. We held onto the ball a little too much. We had guys open and missed them. They’re fantastic. Chris Silvestri is the best defensive coordinator in the state. Bar none. No questions asked.”
New Canaan’s defense has been its most dominant feature all season, and that continued again on Friday. Iobbi, who came in averaging 285 all-purpose yards a game, rushed for 102, but many came on the final drive. He had 32 yards receiving.
“I think our kids enjoy playing defense,” Lou Marinelli said. “I know it’s a pain in the neck for us to go against them in practice. I go crazy on Drew but he’s going up against some pretty good guys.”
New Canaan won the battle in turnovers, 5-0, and added three interceptions to give it 17 this year.
Ryan O’Connell, who had 148 yards rushing and receiving, also plays in the Rams’ secondary.
“Every day in practice we rally to the ball,” Ryan O’Connell said. “We take everything personally. We really felt we had something to prove tonight. There was a lot of talk on how good Greenwich was, how good they are on offense. “We had a chance to show the state for that matter how good we are and I think we did that tonight.”